The Picasso Effect

Medium • 5 August 2013

Right place, right time. A recently published paper by Stoyan Sgrouev ponders why Van Gogh's brilliantly innovative painting technique went unrecognized while Picasso's cubist debut sparked an artistic revolution within just a few years. A lot of innovation success depends on luck—finding a receptive market at the right moment. In Picasso's case, his upward trajectory was fueled by younger consumers eager to move away from staid academic work and the availability of new marketing channels via private art galleries. Read on for more on successfully timing radical innovation.

Thinking about great leaps forward—innovation—by examining the history of art is an interesting strategy that gives a new perspective. It reinforces the extent to which radical innovation is also a function of market readiness. (Michalko)

Monsters, Marvels, and the Birth of Science

Nautilus • Issue 4

Chambers of wonder. Check out this interview with Lorraine Daston, head of Berlin's Max Planck Institute for History of Science, for an overview of the history of scientific inquiry as it evolved from a fascination with the anomalies of nature to a driving curiosity about why. Daston compares today's museums to the 16th century wunderkammern, or curiosity cabinets, used to display collections of the bizarre and unusual: "Probably only in museums is that alliance of wonder and curiosity still preserved in its full intensity."

A good case is made that both modern science and our conceptions of a museum issue from monsters. I love that she thinks the first thirty years of the Proceedings of the Royal Academy of Science reads like The National Enquirer (still around!)—a tribute to the impact of tabloids on culture. (Michalko)

On Kinsey & Cataloguing Erotica

Girls Like Giants • 26 July 2013

Another day at the office. This short essay by former Kinsey Institute cataloguer Pamela Pierce amusingly recounts the challenges of establishing professional guidelines for cataloging quirky artifacts. Read on for an eye-opening peek into the secret lives of cartoon characters and the joys of classifying the undefinable.

Any of us who spent even a short time cataloging have some comparable stories but, of course, not all the material we handled has this kind of hold on the popular imagination. (Michalko)

How Category Creation Is Reinvigorating Classical Music

HBR Blog Network • 29 July 2013

Categorical imperative? CRM expert Eddie Yoon shares his insight into the psychological effects of categorization on consumer demand. Classification systems are essential for information retrieval, but Yoon argues that expanding traditional definitions could open new avenues for consumer appreciation and corporate sponsorship.

I'm grateful that this short article introduced me to YouTube stars ThePianoGuys. Go right there or read the article that explains "Why It Pays to Be a Category Creator." (Michalko)

Hotels Add Libraries as Amenity to Keep Guests Inside

The New York Times • 29 July 2013

Books as bait. Hotels are finding that a well-stocked library helps boost profits as guests spend their time and money browsing onsite rather than venturing out for reading material. Jenny McKibben, coordinator at the Strand bookstore, which supplies hotels, says books are the "new luxury item" at hotels across the country.

We stayed at The Study at Yale during our recent OCLC Research Library Partnership Past Forward event on special collections. It was very nice. And yes, you could buy the 80 most popular titles as determined by the Strand Bookstore customers. (Michalko)

Business Models for an Era of Innovation Glut

Ivey Business Journal • July/August 2013

Getting noticed. Technology strategist and author Alistair Davidson says key to a successful innovation strategy are customer knowledge and product differentiation. Under subtitle "New Innovation Approaches," Davidson uses digital content as an example of a fast-changing area where "[b]undling or unbundling legal rights is now the new frontier in product differentiation for content." Read on for Davidson's suggestions on ways that publishers could slice and dice the e-content market to stand out from the crowd.

This is a useful article with some charts and graphs that demonstrate that the options for differentiation are greater than the choice of basic business model. I think we will see some of these differentiation strategies come front and center in the delivery of higher education. (Michalko)

Above the Fold Quiz

According to an item in this week's News and Views section, how can archivists start to deal with the born digital content they currently have on physical media in their collections?

Get the answer.